Media coverage of a report from IDC Research says sales of Wi-Fi only tablets have passed sales of 3G models in Australia and New Zealand.
IDC’s analyst explained the shift away from mobile networks to Wi-Fi in terms of product offerings. This misses the point: for most people 3G doesn’t make sense on a tablet.
3G option is costly
Adding 3G, and now with the new iPad, 4G to an Apple tablet adds NZ$200 to the price. For the 16GB iPad, that’s a hefty 27 percent premium. For that kind of money, you need to know you’ll use that tablet while on the move.
To use mobile data you also need a Micro-Sim card and a mobile data account with a carrier. Make that an extra Sim card and account unless you don’t have a mobile phone.
3G is troublesome
When I bought my iPad 2 I decided this would be too much trouble. I might only need to use 3G with my iPad once or twice a month and I didn’t want to deal with extra Sim cards and mobile accounts.
Instead, if I need a 3G iPad connection while I’m on the move I use my mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hub. That way my phone account picks up the data cost.
I’m not likely to travel anywhere with my iPad and not take my phone as well.
Phone Wi-Fi hub fast enough
I haven’t benchmarked speeds on my iPad and phone combination against a 3G iPad alternative because the comparison is not important. My set up is more than fast enough for my everyday needs, the only drawback is using my phone as a Wi-Fi hub drains the batteries faster than normal use.
This approach means less administration and it consolidates all my data buying in a single account which means economies of scale.
If you’re always on the run and need plenty of data a 3G tablet might make more sense, for most users it doesn’t.